Ladies Freeroll satellite winners prepare for the Bahamas

ps_news_thn.jpgFor literally thousands of poker players around the world, the PCA is a greatly anticipated New Year's celebration, staged in an idyllic setting at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. The PCA has also become a reunion of sorts, for some of the top players in in the world, as they return year after year to enjoy a poker festival that is second only to the WSOP. Thanks to satellites hosted by PokerStars and our partners, a good number of those players will be women who will be competing in the PokerStars Luxury Ladies Event at the PCA. The package, valued at $3,480, was introduced last year and culminated in a total prize pool of $88,270. Vanessa Rousso won the event, besting a field of 91 entries, and took home $24,725 for her efforts.

This year's package includes a $1K buy-in to the ladies only tournament (to be held January 14 and 15), hotel accommodations for four nights at the Atlantis, $700 for spending money, a Women's Poker Boot Camp hosted by Vanessa Rousso, and a Sunset Beach Camp by Beth Gains of Eat, Play, Love Seminars.

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Vanessa Rousso

We were able to interview a few of the satellite winners who are currently looking forward to celebrating the New Year at the PCA with a tournament and vacation (not to mention a rocking party) that will provide memories for years to come. They have shared their stories with us for a brief glimpse into what it was like to win such an incredible package, what they are looking forward to the most (aside from the tournament, of course), and where they plan to go from here. Today we will share comments from the freeroll satellite winners who won their package for an outlay of absolutely zero dollars (that's $0 dollars in numeric terms, just in case you missed it).

The winner who is first up will most likely have the longest trip to get there, since she hails from Finland. Teija Halkosaari won the freeroll sponsored by Wave Journey (www.wavejourney.com), a women's travel and lifestyle site. Teija is a twenty-five year old economics major, who has never played a live tournament, but has logged over 1200 online tournaments and is an active participant in the PokerStars Women's Poker League, garnering first place in the Women's Euro Special twice. She played poker for the first time a year and a half ago, but "really started studying and playing more seriously about six months ago."

She is looking forward to getting away from the brutally cold weather in Finland (currently 12 degrees Farenheit) to the tropical warmth of the Bahamas. Teija says that she's dreaming of the "sunny beaches and colorful cocktails" and is excited about meeting some of the players she has met online. She is really looking forward to exploring the Atlantis, with her boyfriend.

The Ladies Event in the Bahamas will be her first foray into the live arena, but she did say that she plans to practice some live play before the event. Teija says she plans to keep thoughts of the $1K buy-in and possible payday out of her mind and tell herself that it's just like any other tournament. She plans to "play to win--just like always." And if she runs into a famous pro at her table, what is her game plan? "I will have a smile on my face and a knock-out on my mind! Of course I hope I won't meet Rousso in the game until the final table, but it would also be quite an achievement to be the one who knocked out a pro."

Teija says the satellite win was "one of the happiest moments" of her life and when it was over, she was in "some kind of shock," and just kept "grinning and grinning." All in all, Teija describes her satellite win and upcoming trip with six words "What else could I ask for?"

Another winner, Jane Goldberg from Las Vegas, says that when she won she "screamed and screamed, and screamed." She adds, "My poor dog was terrified! My boyfriend and I laughed and hugged, and then I screamed some more. Then I called two of my brothers and screamed some more." During the last two hours of the game she was literally shaking.

Jane says that her friends and family know how important it is for her to have a chance to play in a big event. Her father passed away in 2008 and she wishes that he had lived long enough to see that she is "facing my first opportunity to become a serious tournament poker player." Jane won a freeroll satellite sponsored by WomanPokerPlayer Magazine and says that she is very grateful to them and to PokerStars for sponsoring the event.

Jane attended a poker boot camp previously and plans to put that knowledge to use in the tournament and spend most of her time "studying poker and prepping for the Ladies Event." She says she has never played in a tournament with a buy-in this large, but would plan to hold onto some of it for the WSOP if she wins. Jane sounds like a woman who is taking the opportunity very seriously, so she will definitely be someone to watch at the tournament.

Another player who will be taking it seriously is Arlene Dujmovich, who won a freeroll sponsored by High Heels Poker Tour and PokerStars. Arlene has had some previous experience in a similar venue by playing the WSOP Ladies Event. She played that event two years ago, and said that she had to work up to it, but "finally felt confident enough in my game to pull together the buy-in fee to enter." Being confident and having some experience under her belt didn't stop her from feeling the adrenaline rush of winning, however. She says she kept saying "Oh my God! Oh my God! I don't believe I just won!" She says she did a victory dance around the computer then got on the phone with her oldest daughter who is a passionate poker player. She then called her other daughter and posted the details on Facebook to let all of her friends know. Arlene is still in the process of accepting the fact that she won, however. "When I started getting emails from HHPT and PokerStars, I kept pinching myself and started realizing how real and exciting it was going to be."

Arlene says that she's been to the Bahamas a few times before, but she always looks forward to going to the Atlantis again. She is most excited about Vanessa Rousso's Women's Poker Boot Camp. She says, "It never ceases to amaze me how layered Texas Hold'em can be, and I am really looking forward to learning from players who have mastered many of the skills and strategies. It's a golden opportunity, and very exciting." And if she winds up at the table with Vanessa Rousso after that boot camp-- "I plan on being relaxed and able to evaluate each hand as it comes." Arlene says that if she wins the tournament, she will buy a new car and contribute to her daughter's wedding, scheduled for next year.

These three ladies are just a few of the skilled (and lucky!) women who will be playing the PokerStars Luxury Ladies Event in January. We will check in with many more qualifiers at the event in January. Until then, play some satellites and win your seat so you can join us there! It will definitely be a trip to remember!

For more information on the PokerStars Luxury Ladies Event, check out this web page.

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PokerStars news